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Update: Canonical are now saying 32bit libraries will be "frozen" and not entirely dropped.

Original article:

Things are starting to get messy, after Canonical announced the end of 32bit support from Ubuntu 19.10 onwards, Valve have now responded.

Speaking on Twitter, Valve dev Pierre-Loup Griffais said:

Ubuntu 19.10 and future releases will not be officially supported by Steam or recommended to our users. We will evaluate ways to minimize breakage for existing users, but will also switch our focus to a different distribution, currently TBD.

I'm starting to think we might see a sharp U-turn from Canonical, as this is something that would hit them quite hard. Either way, the damage has been done.

I can't say I am surprised by Valve's response here. Canonical pretty clearly didn't think it through enough on how it would affect the desktop. It certainly seems like Canonical also didn't speak to enough developers first.

Perhaps this will give Valve a renewed focus on SteamOS? Interestingly, Valve are now funding some work on KWin (part of KDE).

Looks like I shall be distro hopping very soon…

To journalists from other websites reading: This does not mean the end of Linux support, Ubuntu is just one distribution.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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264 comments
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ageres 25 June 2019 at 1:09 am UTC
einherjarThey want one reliable OS --> MS gives it to them.
Do you mean Windows 7? Or 8.1? Or 10? Which build, 1703, 1709, 1803, 1809 or 1903? LTSC maybe? 32 bit or 64 bit?
einherjarWe need a big popular and reliable Distro, to have enough marketshare and live the "diversity". With 1% marketshare distributed across more then 10 Distros, we will remain irrelevant (on Desktop) for most of the companies.
How having many distros can harm Linux? Imagine if there is only one Linux distro, and that distro drops 32-bit support...
razing32 25 June 2019 at 10:36 am UTC
einherjar
Purple Library Guy
einherjarThanks Canonical

Now we will have lots of game devs and publishers saying:
"See, there is no reliable Distro in the Linux world. It doesn't make sense to ship software for Linux"
No doubt we will. But they will be fools to do so. Look, Microsoft and Apple make stupid decisions all the time. When they do, just exactly what can you do about it? Can you switch to a different Windows or Mac OS distro?
This is a time to celebrate the fact that Linux distros are not monopolies.

Like it or not, but with that small userbase it is also a disadvantage.
Developers and Companys like Adobe will be held away from bringing their software to Linux.
They want one reliable OS --> MS gives it to them.

We need a big popular and reliable Distro, to have enough marketshare and live the "diversity". With 1% marketshare distributed across more then 10 Distros, we will remain irrelevant (on Desktop) for most of the companies.

I believe Bryan Lunduke spoke about this in one of his Linux Sucks talks(name is ironic)
It is a two sided coin , a blessing and a curse.
People can modify something like Gnome all they want or they can fork it into Mate and Cinammon.
Same is true for distros. People can stick with one distro and customize it to their liking or fork/make their own.
The good thing is anybody is free to do what they want.
The bad thing is less manpower across the board.
Don't think this will go away any time soon.
doomiebaby 25 June 2019 at 10:42 am UTC
razing32I believe Bryan Lunduke spoke about this in one of his Linux Sucks talks(name is ironic)
It is a two sided coin , a blessing and a curse.
People can modify something like Gnome all they want or they can fork it into Mate and Cinammon.
Same is true for distros. People can stick with one distro and customize it to their liking or fork/make their own.
The good thing is anybody is free to do what they want.
The bad thing is less manpower across the board.
Don't think this will go away any time soon.

i hope it doesn't =P
Purple Library Guy 25 June 2019 at 1:15 pm UTC
Beamboom
Purple Library Guy
BeamboomAnd like I said in that other discussion: One can't expect an old binary to run on new computers for all eternity.
Why not?

Do I really need to explain that? Why do do think they want to do this to begin with? Why do we phase out technology quite regularly - despite the hard struggle every bloody time we do it?

Why did Windows become such a bloody, security issue riddled mess? Several reasons, but the need to be backward compatible is one massive reason. Messy as f*ck. A patchwork out of this world.

In a world of limited resources, spending a lot of those resources on backward compatibility can be argued is a energy wasted that could be spent a lot better. Especially now that those old blobs of binaries can be run in virtualized environments.
So it's OK because they can be run in virtualized environments. So, you're saying one can't expect an old binary to run on new computers for all eternity because there's a way of making old binaries run on new computers for all eternity.
Purple Library Guy 25 June 2019 at 1:28 pm UTC
TheSHEEEP
Purple Library Guy
TheSHEEEPI simply look beyond a few personal inconveniences at the bigger picture.
And the bigger picture is that progress requires sacrifice. Can't play some games/use some apps anymore? So be it, if that's the price to pay to finally get rid of old stuff like 32bit for good.
Because . . . the libraries take up a few megs on your terabyte+ hard drive? Yeah, surely it's worth getting rid of some functionality to get that!!!
But you know, all you have to do is delete the relevant libs. Nobody's stopping you.
That wouldn't serve any purpose, as it would only be for me. As I said, I'm looking at the bigger picture here.
And the bigger picture is that right now, 32bit is like an annoying mosquito at the butt of many developers and users... just look at this very situation.
If 32bit were gone for good, well, so would be situations like these.
Yes, if 32bit were gone for good, never again would people complain about the removal of 32bit. This is kind of a tautology about any course of action, whether wise or moronic. If Canonical decided to ship without a graphical desktop environment so you just had a terminal and nothing else, after the initial firestorm they would never again have to face complaints about them ripping out the graphical environment. So I suppose by your logic they'd better go ahead and do that.
And as far as I can tell, 32bit is only an annoying mosquito to whoever maintains the libs. I have seen no case advanced by anyone in which the existence of the libs causes any problems for anyone else. Whereas lack of it is a really significant problem for a lot of cases. So your "big picture" seems to be that the only reason for supporting the removal of support for 32 bit applications is a sort of abstract hatred of old things and an annoyance at people getting to retain old functionality.
There are cases to be made at times for making changes that break compatibility with old stuff. I haven't seen anyone make such a case about this, beyond "We can't be arsed to maintain it". And I don't think anyone would even be suggesting ceasing to maintain functionality that supported this much stuff if the stuff in question didn't have the stigma of being old.


Last edited by Purple Library Guy at 25 June 2019 at 1:31 pm UTC
TheSHEEEP 25 June 2019 at 1:53 pm UTC
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Purple Library Guy
TheSHEEEP
Purple Library Guy
TheSHEEEPI simply look beyond a few personal inconveniences at the bigger picture.
And the bigger picture is that progress requires sacrifice. Can't play some games/use some apps anymore? So be it, if that's the price to pay to finally get rid of old stuff like 32bit for good.
Because . . . the libraries take up a few megs on your terabyte+ hard drive? Yeah, surely it's worth getting rid of some functionality to get that!!!
But you know, all you have to do is delete the relevant libs. Nobody's stopping you.
That wouldn't serve any purpose, as it would only be for me. As I said, I'm looking at the bigger picture here.
And the bigger picture is that right now, 32bit is like an annoying mosquito at the butt of many developers and users... just look at this very situation.
If 32bit were gone for good, well, so would be situations like these.
Yes, if 32bit were gone for good, never again would people complain about the removal of 32bit. This is kind of a tautology about any course of action, whether wise or moronic. If Canonical decided to ship without a graphical desktop environment so you just had a terminal and nothing else, after the initial firestorm they would never again have to face complaints about them ripping out the graphical environment. So I suppose by your logic they'd better go ahead and do that.
That's not at all what I was saying, but as those mental gymnastics must have been very straining, you get an A for effort.

Purple Library GuyAnd as far as I can tell, 32bit is only an annoying mosquito to whoever maintains the libs. I have seen no case advanced by anyone in which the existence of the libs causes any problems for anyone else. Whereas lack of it is a really significant problem for a lot of cases. So the big picture seems to be that the only reason for supporting the removal of support for 32 bit applications is a sort of abstract hatred of old things and an annoyance at people getting to retain old functionality.
Manpower spent on maintaining old software is not spent on developing, testing or improving new software. Which is even worse in a space as fragmented as linux.
That affects everyone in the long run, even if not directly & immediately.
I also can't really imagine maintenance of 32bit libraries to be a very fulfilling activity, so it always seems a bit threatened to me if nobody is directly paying for it.

As a software developer myself, I can say that one of the biggest costs in development of almost any software project that is going for a few years is usually maintenance of legacy code/libs.
Yes, getting rid of old software/libs means a few people will be inconvenienced due to a change of functionality, but as long as you offer a working "good enough" replacement, the cost is much smaller in the long run than having to maintain obsolete stuff for all eternity.
As such, I understand the desire to get rid of old stuff very much.

Now, Canonical failed at this attempt as they simply did not offer a working replacement at all.
I don't care what the eventual replacement for being able to run 32bit will be. It can be emulation, Snap/flatpak-like or a big ol' precompiled "32bit compatibility pack" for all I care.
I'm just saying that the current method is obviously not the best if it causes Canonical to kick off such a fuss (and so obviously ill-prepared), and this isn't even something new, these discussions have been going on since what, 2014?
Who knows, maybe this chaos has the potential to bring some better solutions.
Purple Library Guy 25 June 2019 at 2:10 pm UTC
einherjar
Purple Library Guy
einherjarThanks Canonical

Now we will have lots of game devs and publishers saying:
"See, there is no reliable Distro in the Linux world. It doesn't make sense to ship software for Linux"
No doubt we will. But they will be fools to do so. Look, Microsoft and Apple make stupid decisions all the time. When they do, just exactly what can you do about it? Can you switch to a different Windows or Mac OS distro?
This is a time to celebrate the fact that Linux distros are not monopolies.

Like it or not, but with that small userbase it is also a disadvantage.
Developers and Companys like Adobe will be held away from bringing their software to Linux.
They want one reliable OS --> MS gives it to them.

We need a big popular and reliable Distro, to have enough marketshare and live the "diversity". With 1% marketshare distributed across more then 10 Distros, we will remain irrelevant (on Desktop) for most of the companies.
As may be--would you be happier right now if Ubuntu were the only Linux distro?
Purple Library Guy 25 June 2019 at 2:11 pm UTC
TheSHEEEPThat's not at all what I was saying,
Then learn to communicate.
Purple Library Guy 25 June 2019 at 2:26 pm UTC
TheSHEEEP
Purple Library Guy
TheSHEEEP
Purple Library Guy
TheSHEEEPI simply look beyond a few personal inconveniences at the bigger picture.
And the bigger picture is that progress requires sacrifice. Can't play some games/use some apps anymore? So be it, if that's the price to pay to finally get rid of old stuff like 32bit for good.
Because . . . the libraries take up a few megs on your terabyte+ hard drive? Yeah, surely it's worth getting rid of some functionality to get that!!!
But you know, all you have to do is delete the relevant libs. Nobody's stopping you.
That wouldn't serve any purpose, as it would only be for me. As I said, I'm looking at the bigger picture here.
And the bigger picture is that right now, 32bit is like an annoying mosquito at the butt of many developers and users... just look at this very situation.
If 32bit were gone for good, well, so would be situations like these.
Yes, if 32bit were gone for good, never again would people complain about the removal of 32bit. This is kind of a tautology about any course of action, whether wise or moronic. If Canonical decided to ship without a graphical desktop environment so you just had a terminal and nothing else, after the initial firestorm they would never again have to face complaints about them ripping out the graphical environment. So I suppose by your logic they'd better go ahead and do that.
That's not at all what I was saying, but as those mental gymnastics must have been very straining, you get an A for effort.

Purple Library GuyAnd as far as I can tell, 32bit is only an annoying mosquito to whoever maintains the libs. I have seen no case advanced by anyone in which the existence of the libs causes any problems for anyone else. Whereas lack of it is a really significant problem for a lot of cases. So the big picture seems to be that the only reason for supporting the removal of support for 32 bit applications is a sort of abstract hatred of old things and an annoyance at people getting to retain old functionality.
Manpower spent on maintaining old software is not spent on developing, testing or improving new software. Which is even worse in a space as fragmented as linux.
That affects everyone in the long run, even if not directly & immediately.
I also can't really imagine maintenance of 32bit libraries to be a very fulfilling activity, so it always seems a bit threatened to me if nobody is directly paying for it.

As a software developer myself, I can say that one of the biggest costs in development of almost any software project that is going for a few years is usually maintenance of legacy code/libs.
Yes, getting rid of old software/libs means a few people will be inconvenienced due to a change of functionality, but as long as you offer a working "good enough" replacement, the cost is much smaller in the long run than having to maintain obsolete stuff for all eternity.
As such, I understand the desire to get rid of old stuff very much.

Now, Canonical failed at this attempt as they simply did not offer a working replacement at all.
I don't care what the eventual replacement for being able to run 32bit will be. It can be emulation, Snap/flatpak-like or a big ol' precompiled "32bit compatibility pack" for all I care.
I'm just saying that the current method is obviously not the best if it causes Canonical to kick off such a fuss (and so obviously ill-prepared), and this isn't even something new, these discussions have been going on since what, 2014?
Who knows, maybe this chaos has the potential to bring some better solutions.
Yes, yes, there's always a justifiable urge to break support for things so you can make improvements or even just have things be "cleaner". But if you do it too much you don't support anything at all; tons of lovely clean functionality with no function. So there always has to be a balance--just how many pounds of baby flesh are you dumping out with that bathwater? Too many and it shouldn't be done. It seems pretty clear that in this case, that's some pretty humongous babies getting dumped. To the point where it seems like, if it were just a case of "X much effort has to be made to support libraries depended on by Y much software used by Z many people" and the software didn't happen to be old, nobody would even consider not supporting them.
TheSHEEEP 25 June 2019 at 3:42 pm UTC
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Purple Library Guy
TheSHEEEPThat's not at all what I was saying,
Then learn to communicate.
I'll learn to communicate when you learn to read without interpreting in whatever way you feel like right now.

Purple Library Guy
einherjarThanks Canonical

Now we will have lots of game devs and publishers saying:
"See, there is no reliable Distro in the Linux world. It doesn't make sense to ship software for Linux"
We need a big popular and reliable Distro, to have enough marketshare and live the "diversity". With 1% marketshare distributed across more then 10 Distros, we will remain irrelevant (on Desktop) for most of the companies.
As may be--would you be happier right now if Ubuntu were the only Linux distro?
If it was, this situation extremely likely wouldn't have happened as we would have a ton of developers working on Ubuntu to solve problems like these, or rather try and make sure they don't arise - instead of everyone and their mum going about to make their own distros for a teeny weeny difference to the next best distro...
People want Linux to keep up with (or rather catch up with) the big ones, but only few seem to understand that this can only be possible under a more unified hood.
Everything else is fragile at best.


Last edited by TheSHEEEP at 25 June 2019 at 3:44 pm UTC
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